Category News

Mobile Marine Protected Areas Proposed for UNCLOS

World leaders are currently updating the laws for international waters, and a group of scientists have proposed that they should include measures that allow protected zones to shift as species move under climate change. The scientists are advocating that the United Nations include mobile marine protected areas in the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) now being updated since its last signing in 1982. The Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) is set to adopt a final treaty text that secures an agreement for a U.N. high seas conservation treaty which provides a mechanism for establishing marine protected areas and reserves. The IGC-4 meeting takes place in New York from March 23 to April 3.

“Animals obviously don’t stay in one place; a lot of them use very large areas of the ocean,...

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Corporate climate action and the top brand global leaders

Unilver products: the group is on the ‘A-list’ for leadership on corporate transparency and action on climate change.

Major global brands including BT Group, Danone, Microsoft and Sony have been named among 179 companies on a prestigious ‘A-list’ for their leadership on corporate transparency and action on climate change, released today by global non-profit climate research provider CDP.

Designed to harness the competitive spirit of business to raise ambition and spur action on tackling climate change, CDP scores thousands of companies which disclose environmental data through its platform each year at the request of their corporate customers and investors.

Data from STOXX has shown that the A-list has outperformed its global benchmark by an average of 5.5% per annum over a seven-year period, indicating transparency and leading action on climate change are correlated with financial success.

Out of ove...

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Climate change: Should you fly, drive or take the train?

The climate campaigner Greta Thunberg chose to sail to a UN climate conference in New York in a zero-emissions yacht rather than fly – to highlight the impact of aviation on the environment. The 16-year-old Swede has previously travelled to London and other European cities by train. Meanwhile the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have faced criticism over opting to fly to Sir Elton John’s villa in Nice in a private jet. So what is the environmental impact of flying and how do trips by train, car or boat compare?

What are aviation emissions?

Flights produce greenhouse gases – mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) – from burning fuel. These contribute to global warming when released into the atmosphere.

An economy-class return flight from London to New York emits an estimated 0...

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Climate change: Last decade confirmed as warmest on record

The 10 years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record by three global agencies. According to Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, last year was the second warmest in a record dating back to 1850. The past five years were the hottest in the 170-year series, with each one more than 1C warmer than pre-industrial. The Met Office says that 2020 is likely to continue this warming trend.

2016 remains the warmest year on record, when temperatures were boosted by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

graphic

Today’s data doesn’t come as a huge surprise, with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) signalling at the start of last December that 2019 likely marked the end of the warmest decade on record.

The Met Office, which is involved in producing the HadCRUT4 temperature ...

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Ocean temperatures hit record high as rate of heating accelerates

The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet. Photograph: Modis/Terra/Nasa

The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet. The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities.

The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record. The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night.

Hotter oceans lead to more severe storms and disrupt the water cycle, meaning more floods, droughts and wildfires, as well as an inexorable r...

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Can an underwater soundtrack bring coral back to life?

A coral reef in the Similan Islands

The ocean is a vast, quiet place, right? Vast, yes; quiet, not so much. As a researcher who studies coral reefs, I’ve floated above many and, when I listen closely, my ears are invariably filled with sounds. There might be the sound of small waves breaking on the beach and coral rubble rolling on the sand as the waves retreat. Beyond the sound of water, there is something quieter.

For some people, these faint noises sound like the snap, crackle and pop of breakfast cereal when milk hits it; for others, they are reminiscent of frying bacon.

Whatever the analogy, they are natural reef sounds, and noisy reefs are a very good thing. So good, in fact, that we might be able to use the sound of healthy coral reefs to improve the quickly increasing number of degraded ones.

For the past three de...

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How scientists are coping with ‘ecological grief’

Melting glaciers, coral reef death, wildlife disappearance, landscape alteration, climate change: our environment is transforming rapidly, and many of us are experiencing a sense of profound loss. Now, the scientists whose work it is to monitor and document this extraordinary change are beginning to articulate the emotional tsunami sweeping over the field, which they’re naming “ecological grief”. Researchers are starting to form support groups online and at institutions, looking for spaces to share their feelings. I talked to some of those affected.

Steve Simpson
Professor of marine biology and global change at the University of Exeter

What changes have you personally seen that have affected you?
I studied marine biology 20 years ago, when it was a celebration of natural history...

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Turks and Caicos corals: Disease threatens barrier reef

Turks and Caicos Islands' vast barrier reef appear as an expanse of blistering beauty.

From the air, the turquoise hues of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ vast barrier reef appear as an expanse of blistering beauty. One of the largest reef systems on Earth, it teems with wildlife like friendly wild dolphins, and attracts more than a million tourists a year. But underneath the water’s stunning surface lurks a deadly disease, silently ravaging the corals which keep its denizens alive and protect the islands’ pristine coastline from storms and erosion.

Stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) has been dubbed the biggest threat facing the tiny British territory’s marine environment, and the most virulent coral sickness the world has ever seen.

‘Not coming back’

“This is a serious problem, if not a crisis,” says Don Stark of local NGO the TC Reef Fund (TCRF)...

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Ocean acidification a big problem – but not for coral reef fish behavior

AN ASSEMBLY OF DAMSELFISHES ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF IN AUSTRALIA. SEVERAL OF THESE DAMSELFISH SPECIES WERE USED BY THE RESEARCHERS IN THEIR STUDY. PHOTO: FREDRIK JUTFELT/NTNU

A three-year, comprehensive study of the effects of ocean acidification challenges previous reports that a more acidic ocean will negatively affect coral reef fish behaviour. The study, conducted by an international coalition led by scientists from Australia and Norway, showed that coral reef fish exposed to CO2 at levels expected by the end of the century did not change their activity levels or ability to avoid predators.

“Contrary to previous studies, we have demonstrated that end-of-century CO2 levels have a negligible impact on the behaviour and sensory systems of coral reef fish,” said Timothy Clark, the lead author of the study and an associate professor at Deakin University in Australia.

Although this is good news on its own, ocean acidification and global warming remain a major pr...

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Overfishing: Can We Ever Reverse the Damage We’ve Done

The global numbers regarding fishing have gone from sustainable to straight-up devastating in just a few decades. Now, the creatures of the water have to fear about two more things in addition to human-made disasters – the rising water temperatures and plastic. There is no harm in fishing. It actually helps the marine ecosystem by keeping the aquatic population in check. But there is a difference between justified consumption and exploitation. And it seems that the differences are just a blur to us.

How severe is overfishing?

In just half a century, over-fished stocked grew triple its size. Its effects pushed one-third of the global fisheries to their biological limits.

Even if one species of fish gets wiped off from the earth, it is going to have a very drastic effect on the marine e...

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